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Spring 2004

Partnership In Planning

Major Borough-Wide Consultation

Partnership in Planning


On 23 March 2004 the RBWM published a Press Release entitled Partnership In Planning - a Major Borough-Wide Consultation and accompanied it with thousands of newspapers on the subject, delivered to households throughout the Borough. On this page we cover our main points and hope that you will take the time to give the Borough your views.

The Borough has asked for the Response Form to be with the Directorate of Planning in Maidenhead by May 24th 2004. The Local Development Framework is intended to be in place by March 2007. The provisions within the Local Development Framework LDF are intended to be relevant in planning the town's development up to 2016. it is our view that we must use this tool to register our opposition to extensive redevelopment within Windsor and that we believe that Windsor's unique place in English heritage deserves considerate and specialist treatment.

Future planning decisions revolve around the Town Plan, renamed now as the Local Development Framework (LDF) and as such it is important that our views as residents are made known. For the purposes of this exercise we are discussing Windsor only. Much as we wish them well, Maidenhead is a totally different town and without Windsor's historical significance! We merely share civic administration. We do not believe that 'sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander'.

The Importance of the Local Development Framework

The revision of the former Town Plan and its rebirth as the Local Development Framework (LDF) is an important document for Windsor and any changes or departures from the existing Town Plan must be carefully considered. In many respects the provisions in the LDF should be tightened up along the lines outlined below for it is this document that our planners should abide by when considering planning applications within Windsor. It is to be hoped that undesirable applications can be avoided in the future by stating clearly what is and what is not desirable in the town.

It should be remembered that government policy in 2004 is to substantially increase housing starts in the SE of England. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) say they are looking to give priority to cheaper, "affordable" housing. This could pose a threat to Windsor in the LDF by permitting higher density housing than at present. If the revised document permits 1000s of additional houses to be built in the south-east, as Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott seems to think is a good idea, then planning refusals will be very difficult here in Windsor.

In order to protect Windsor from over-development, the LDF must state clearly what kind of development is permitted and where it is permitted. In addition, developers should be able to clearly identify the likelihood of permissions being granted or denied prior to embarking on land or property purchase. The Local Development Framework should discourage developers looking for a profit from increasing the density on a particular site. The threat to five properties in Clarence Road is an example of the kind of development that should be resisted for the simple reason that if it is permitted, then the entire length of Clarence Road will be at risk. This is because of the low density of the housing currently along the road which, with their large gardens, is ideal for the construction of flats. It is for this reason that the Royal Windsor Website opposes the destruction of these quality 1930s residential properties and their replacement by poorly designed, architectural jokes, as was permitted a few years ago on the other side of the road. See Story here.


Cleveland, 2 York Avenue, Windsor, left empty for several years

One of the dangers of an unclear development planning strategy is that properties can be left empty for years at a time, scarring the community, before a resolution is finally found. An example of this is to be found at Cleveland, 2 York Avenue, Windsor, where a property has been left empty since 2001 while the developers seek permission to demolish the house and construct four town houses. Three years later, in May 2004, permission continues to be refused on the grounds of parking limitations, density and access. The application has been appealed and must now be heard by The Planning Inspectorate later in the year. We trust that permission will continue to be be refused as the plans are inappropriate for a small corner site. The penalty as far as local residents are concerned is that the eyesore that the boarded up house has become will remian for a year or two yet. This visual blot should not be permitted. There are other properties in Windsor that have been similarly abandoned for extended periods of time, not least Sydney Camm's house in Alma Road, though this was of the council's own making where it attempted to push through the construction of a very large car park in the centre of Windsor. The houses were to be demolished to make way for the access road!

Our view is simply that situations such as this can be minimised by clear guidelines from the outset in the form of The Local Plan and the LDF.

It is the policy of The Royal Windsor Website to oppose most increases in housing density in the Royal Borough of Windsor because we believe the town is a special case. If this is Nimbyism then so be it. Yes, we are proud to be Nimbies, and with good reason! An example of inappropriate development is recounted here, where a very attractive detached older property was threatened in 2003 with demolition to make way for twenty flats. Previously, back in the late 50s, land attached to this property was permitted to be built upon, reducing the garden area by about half.

Threatened 1900s house

38 York Road, a delightful property that had been the subject of a redevelopment application, but which was refused in December 2003

There are many other examples of inappropriate planning approvals in the past, not least Ward Royal, which was a tragic mistake in the town centre. We assume that mistakes of this calibre and magnitude will not be permitted again and that the Local Development Framework will provide a safeguard.

We do not always oppose development within the town, just in case a reader might think we are Total Nimbies. We did not oppose the Trevelyan School redevelopment, although we would have preferred to see two storey rather than three storey buildings, and we did not oppose the development in Green Lane adjacent to the Scout Hut as we were under the impression that a new, modern cub and scout facility would be built in the place of the older building. Recent developments in St Leonards Road do not seem to be too intrusive either, such as the Fiat garage redevelopment, where the demolition of an old car sales area, Hardings, was replaced by modern apartments.

Public Open Space

In the current Town Plan, adopted in July 1999, it is shown that Windsor suffers a shortfall in informal Public Open Space of some 32.42 hectares according to a 1991 survey included in the Town Plan as Appendix 1. Considering that the required amount of POS for the given population of 27,395 at that time was 68.49ha, the shortfall amounted to approximately 90%. This is in 1991. This excludes the significant numbers of new homes built in the last decade throughout the Windsor area which could well push the population up to around 30,000 and a target POS provision of 75ha. For the sake of argument Windsor has half the POS it should have and planning permissions, although restricted, continue to be granted.

We propose that new developments in the Windsor area should not be permitted unless ACTUAL Public Open Space is provided except where the development is too small to make this practical. This means that the facility whereby payments can be made to the Borough in lieu of Open Space be scrapped. There is something rather distasteful about the Borough making money through a shortfall in its own facilities and provisions. We understand that this income is said to be spent on play areas, equipment and the like, but we maintain that it is not a desirable state of affairs which can lead to the loss of open areas in return for cash payments.


We hope that we are selective in our nimbyism which can be summarised as follows:

Planning applications in Windsor should not permitted in the following locations and circumstances:

  • Where existing, 'quality' houses are threatened with demolition. The term 'quality' is, we know, contentious and debatable. However, in most cases it is self-evident if a property has been soundly constructed and is in harmony with its local surroundings. For the purposes of planning permissions we believe that most property built in the inter-war years falls in this category. Similarly we believe that the extensive areas of Victorian terraced housing and villa style housing should be protected especially where entire streets are built in the same style and are of the same era. The Local Development Framework should also address the problem of inappropriate external doors, windows and roofing materials on older properties, regardless of being in a conservation area or not.
  • Where privately owned land, such as gardens, allotments, pastures or public open spaces would be reduced in area or lost. In the event that allotments are no longer required, the land should be made available as Public Open Space and covenanted as such to prevent any future threats to their existence, except return to use as allotments if the demand arose.
  • Where an increase in density would adversely affect the required area of Public Open Space per 1000 population, payments of cash to the Borough in lieu of Public Open Space provision must be curtailed or halted altogether.

The Royal Borough's Press Release

The way the Royal Borough develops in the future will take into account the knowledge and views of local people through a major consultation to get under way next week (Monday March 29).

The current local plan, now up for review, was adopted in 1999.  Its replacement ­ the Local Development Framework - will contain the detailed policies and proposals to guide development in the borough until 2016. 

The first step is a comprehensive issues paper - Partnership in Planning - which will be used as the basis for community consultation, encouraging the involvement of the widest possible range and number of people in helping to shape the borough of the future.

  • The issues paper spells out the national, regional and local considerations for how land should be used in the years ahead, including the three key elements of government guidance:
  • sustainable development and communities, including use of available natural resources
  • urban renaissance ­ creating a high quality environment in all urban areas
  • green belt ­ focusing development away from the countryside.

It also embraces the themes and principles of the borough's own community strategy and highlights how land use planning has a significant influence on the way people live, work, shop and use their leisure time.

Cllr Vicky Howes, lead member for planning, said the local plan was one of the most important documents produced by the council and the release of the issues paper was an exciting step towards a new planning framework for the future. 

She added:  "The Local Development Framework will influence where we can set up home and do our shopping, where we work, how we travel, the leisure and education facilities available for us and our families, the quality of the environment we live in and the preservation of the countryside for us to enjoy.

"There is hardly an area of our lives that the local plan doesn't touch ­ so it is vital that everyone is given the opportunity to be a partner with the council and have a say in the document which will take us through the next 13 years.  This consultation is the chance for local people to make their mark and influence the future of the borough for themselves and their children."

The issues paper, with its accompanying questionnaire, is being sent to every household with the spring edition of Around the Royal Borough.  Copies will go to parish councils, employers, voluntary and statutory organisations, churches, developers and community outlets.  There will also be an exhibition in the Nicholsons Shopping Centre, Maidenhead, and Windsor Royal Station after the Easter holidays.

This initial public consultation will last for eight weeks and all comments should be returned to the special freepost address:  Directorate of Planning and Environment, RB OF Windsor and Maidenhead, FREEPOST (SCE1944), MAIDENHEAD, Berkshire SL6 1GZ, no later than May 24.

Note: The government has set a target date of March 2007 for all local authorities to have their Local Development Framework (the new-style local plan) in place.  The Royal Borough's framework timetable and the results of the issues paper consultation will go to cabinet later this year.

Filling in the Response Form

The simple rule when filling in this form is to only tick those boxes that do not require new buildings or other expansion in the town centre or immediate surroundings. For example, Question One asks where you think development should take place. Care is needed here. The choices are:

Option One: Within the town centre.

We say: No right thinking resident is going to want to see the centre of Windsor demolished to make way for higher density building, so that is out.

Option Two: Within smaller centres excluded from the Green Belt.

We say: It is unlikely that there are any areas around Windsor where that option would be acceptable and probably falls under Option Five below.

Option Three offers the option to build within the Green Belt

We say: This is totally unacceptable. The Green Belt must be protected at all costs throughout the UK.

Option Four suggests development along transport routes adjacent to railway stations and bus routes.

We say: 'Ribbon development' was popular in the 1930s where homes were built along existing main roads. This concept was discredited many years ago and as there is little or no space adjacent to the two stations in Windsor the option must be a discarded. Building along bus routes would be as disastrous to the landscape as the ribbon devlopment of the 1930s proved to be.

Option Five suggests development 'on small sites within the Borough'.

We say: This is known as 'infilling' and was outlawed to prevent development on divided garden plots and should be opposed. Planning permission is rarely given for a large garden to be divided and sold off for development and rightly so. It has happened in the past, but it is no longer acceptable in this day and age.
  The threatened Clarence Road development could be described as being 'on a small site' and this option has been argued against above as being an unaccptable threat to existing characterful and mature areas. Remember that lots of 'small sites' eventually join up to be one large site!

Option Six invites you to list 'other locations'.

We say: As we are attempting to restrict development within Windsor, there is no need to drop hints or give clues to planners as to where would be appropriate! Nowhere is appropriate! Well, there are one or two places, but the developers know only too well where these are so we don't need to encourage them. We suggest that the only remotely effective answer to Question One is therefore to state clearly on Option Six that you do not wish any development to take place within Windsor.

Now Maidenhead... that is another bucket of bricks altogether....

Option Seven is don't know.

But we all know you do!

We regret that we have been unable to cover the Response Form thoroughly but hope to keep an eye on things in the coming months. Don't forget the forum to put your point of view. The Windsor Forum

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